Guide and Tips on Using the Subway and Bus

First time traveling to Korea? Curious on how to take the subway or bus? Here are some guides and tips on using the subway and bus for you my chingudeul.

If there’s one thing that really amazes me here in Korea is transportation. It’s very easy to use and transport from one place to another. It’s not really hard to travel around because there’s English signage everywhere. There are underground shopping centers too in subways and even cafes, convenience store and other public necessities like restrooms and breastfeeding rooms.

seoul subway map

If it’s your first time going to Korea,  download the app Seoul Metro Subway or Kakao Map ahead of time so you can have time to manage and learn how to use it. Don’t be afraid of getting lost because its a part of every travel. But to make sure you won’t get lost and have those unforgettable experiences, here are some guides and tips for you my chingudeul.

QUICK GUIDE

  • Buy a T-money card at the convenience stores like CU, 7-11, GS25, Ministop or Emart24.
  • Load the card around ₩30,000 if you’ll be in Korea for around a week.
  • The reloading machine accepts CASH ONLY.
  • The fare is ₩1,250 (short distance is ₩900) or around PHP50 or $1.
  • Bus/Subway transfer are free or with discounts like you’ll pay ₩50 to ₩300.
  • Tap your card (in and out) of the subway or taking in and off the bus.
  • Use google maps to find your way
  • Check for the exit maps before going out of the subway.

SUBWAY/BUS ETIQUETTES

  • Do not sit in elderly seats even if it’s empty (but if you have a baby with you you can take a seat)
  • Pink seats are for pregnant women.
  • Don’t talk too loudly.
  • Foods and drinks are not allowed in buses (it should be inside a plastic bag)
  • Enter the subway after all the exiting passengers have left.
  • If you have a big backpack, wear it in your front or put at the space for baggage.
  • Line up when entering the subway or taking the bus.
  • When taking off the bus, push the bell button before arriving at the bus stop station.
    (It’s not like in the Philippines you gonna say “para po”)
  • Don’t be a PDA. Elder people don’t like it.  (I’m taking the subway most of the time and I have several experiences with this from tourists nor locals and sometimes it’s not really appropriate especially when kids are around.)

GUIDES AND TIPS ON USING THE SUBWAY AND BUS

1. FIGURING OUT YOUR ROUTE USING GOOGLE MAPS

Use google maps to find which bus or subway you’ll take before going to your designated location. The photo shows the starting point, the next station, and the destination.

google map

An example is going to Dongdaemun, this photo shows the starting point is the Kwangwoon University Station and the next station is Seokgye. You have to need to look for the direction or lane of the next station so you can ride the correct subway train. 

Another app that shows a good map and direction is Kakao Map.  (I think you need to be registered in Kakaotalk to be able to use the Kakao map.)

TIP: Screenshot the map route so whenever you lost wifi you can able to check it anytime. To make it more sure, write in your notes so whenever the phone battery dies you have Plan B.

2. FINDING THE SUBWAY/BUS STOP

subway station

Bus stops and subways can be found easily. Signages and directions are everywhere. If you were lost or something just use GPS. If the internet is not working, don’t hesitate to ask where’s the nearest subway station near you.

3. BUYING A T-MONEY CARD

t-money card

T-money or transportation card is very important when traveling, though buses accept cash subways don’t. Plus using the t-money card you’ll get free or discounts whenever you transfer to another bus or subway. You can buy T-money cards in subways “Ticket Vending and Card Reload Device” and even in convenience stores like CU, Ministop, 7-11, GS25 and Emart24. If you want to make a personalized transportation card? Read here: How to Make a Personalized Transportation Card

4. LOADING THE T-MONEY CARD

Ticket Vending and Card Reload Device

After buying the T-money card of course don’t forget to reload the card around ₩30,000 to ₩50,000 if you’ll gonna be traveling a lot.  Here’s an article regarding on how to reload the t-money card.

Note: The Ticket Vending and Card Reload Device only accept CASH.

5. ACCESSING ON THE SUBWAY

subway station

Accessing the subways check if you are on the right lane before tapping your card. Check first on the entrance gate whether you’ll take the right or left side. Sometimes there are subways which have the same entrance and you just need to check the arrow showing the next station.

If you are taking the bus, carefully check the correct bus stop before waiting for the bus. If the busway is correct then you can wait for the bus. There is some electronic screen where you can see which bus is coming and how many minutes before it arrives.

6. LINE AND DIRECTIONS

Subway lines have the designated colors. Like Line 1 is blue, Line 3 is orange and Line 2 is green. Most o the subways have tv screen where you can see the next station. There’s also a voice operator that tells the present station and the next station in English. Don’t worry much because subways and buses in Korea are English friendly.

7. EXIT/ ENTRANCE GATES/ BUS STOPS

kakao map

Upon arrival in your destination congratulate your self for a second. But remember before going out of the subway, check first the way of the exit that you supposed to exit. There are some subways that have 2 exits and nothing to worry about that but having 10 exits will give you headaches. Some subways are connected to underground shopping malls too. So you have to figure out the exact exit and tap the T-money card before going out.

bus station

For bus stops, just push the bell button before the bus arrives at your destination. You’ll see small screen monitors that tell which bus is coming and how many minutes before it arrives.

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